Arles is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in France. Its numerous Roman monuments have earned it UNESCO World Heritage status. It was Vincent Van Gogh's home, where he painted 200 works, including his famous sunflowers, and it has been the center of European photographic culture every summer for the past 50 years, with the Rencontre Arles photo festival. With the opening of LUMA, we now have yet another reason to visit Arles.
Luma Tower imagined by Frank Gehry, January 2021 Luma Arles, Parc des Ateliers, Arles (France) © Adrian Deweerdt
The LUMA Foundation is a 27-acre artistic campus in Arles' Parc des Ateliers that brings together artists and innovators. Frank Gehry's impressive 15,000-square-meter tower is at its core, a swirling geometric structure of 11,000 stainless steel panels.
Describing LUMA, Frank Gehry said: “We wanted to evoke the local, from Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ to the soaring rock clusters you find in the region. Its central drum echoes the plan of the Roman amphitheatre.”
Exhibition galleries, project spaces, LUMA's research and archive facilities, as well as workshop and lecture rooms, will all be housed there. The campus also includes seven former railway factories, four of which have been renovated by Selldorf Architects as exhibition and performance spaces. The surrounding gardens and public park are designed by landscape architect, Bas Smets.
Frank Gehry and Maja Hoffmann Los Angeles, CA, 2019 © Annie Leibovitz
Maja Hoffmann, who founded the LUMA Foundation in 2004, is the driving force behind the Arles project. The Foundation is a leading international philanthropic organization that supports Art, music, environmental issues, human rights, education, and science. Its mission is to give artists the freedom to experiment in the creation of new work in close collaboration with other artists from various disciplines, curators, and a wide range of audiences.
Maja Hoffmann led the construction of this innovative campus in Arles from 2008 to 2020, with the support of a small committed team and the mutual input of a Core Group of advisers (Tom Eccles, Liam Gillick, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Philippe Parreno, and Beatrix Ruf). LUMA has already commissioned and shown the work of over 100 artists and innovators at various locations in Arles, including the ancient Roman amphitheatre and the LUMA Arles campus.
“There is one driving-metaphor for LUMA at the Parc des Ateliers: that of a living organism. As such the balance between form and function determines its viability. It is about composing a polyphonic score where everything is ordered, yet where everything is possible. Là où, toujours, quelque part quelque chose se passe” Maja Hoffmann Founder and President of the LUMA Foundation, July 2010
Aerial view of the site, September 2020 Luma Arles, Parc des Ateliers, Arles (France)
© Hervé Hôte
The towering edifice of LUMA with Frank Gehry's undulating and reflective angles has changed the horizon of this small yet important city in the south of France. It is impossible not to be drawn into everything that Arles has to offer. We will certainly be putting Arles on our summer calendar and we cant wait to see the completed LUMA at the Parc des Ateliers.
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